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The U.S. Congress : a very short introduction /

"Many scholars believe that the framers of the Constitution intended Congress to be the preeminent branch of government. Indeed, no other legislature in the world approaches its power. Yet most Americans have only a murky idea of how it works. In The U.S. Congress, Donald A. Ritchie, a congression...

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Main Author: Ritchie, Donald A., 1945-
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: New York : Oxford University Press, 2010
Series: Very short introductions.
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Summary: "Many scholars believe that the framers of the Constitution intended Congress to be the preeminent branch of government. Indeed, no other legislature in the world approaches its power. Yet most Americans have only a murky idea of how it works. In The U.S. Congress, Donald A. Ritchie, a congressional historian for more than thirty years, takes readers on a fascinating, behind-the-scenes tour of Capitol Hill--pointing out the key players, explaining their behavior, and translating parliamentary language into plain English. No mere civics lesson, this eye-opening book provides an insider's perspective on Congress, matched with a professional historian's analytical insight. After a swift survey of the creation of Congress by the constitutional convention, he begins to unscrew the nuts and pull out the bolts. What is it like to campaign for congress? To attract large donors? To enter either house with no seniority? He answers these questions and more, explaining committee assignments (and committee work), the role of staffers and lobbyists, floor proceedings, parliamentary rules, and coalition building. Ritchie explores the great effort put into constituent service--as representatives and senators respond to requests from groups and individuals--as well as media relations and news coverage. He also explores how the grand concepts we all know from civics class--checks and balances, advise and consent, congressional oversight--work in practice, in an age of strong presidents and a muscular Senate minority (no matter which party is in that position). In this sparkling addition to Oxford's Very Short Introduction series, Donald Ritchie moves beyond the cynicism and the platitudes to provide a gem of a portrait of how Congress really works"--
"Congress is the most open branch of the federal government, and its members labor to provide constituent services and court the news media, but because they speak with many voices they have long operated at a disadvantage against the singular image of the president. This very short introduction to Congress offers a concise explanation of how the Congress operates and provides historical context for its evolution. As a national forum, congressional debates and compromises have sought not only to enact laws but to forge national consensus behind them. Congress writes all federal laws, appropriates all federal funds, and checks and balances the executive and judicial branches. Its constitutional powers, structures, and procedures have remained remarkably consistent for more than two centuries. Yet Congress has often been criticized for obstructing or not standing up to the presidency, and for neglecting or delaying pressing national needs. This short introduction highlights the rules, precedents, and practices of the Senate and House of Representatives. It offers glimpses into their committees and floor proceedings to reveal the complex processes in which they enact legislation. It considers how members are elected and reelected, and the role of campaigns, lobbying, staff, and the media in legislative business. It also examines the changing demography of Congress, with the election of more women and racial and ethnic minorities, and their impact on the legislative process, in an era when a woman serves as Speaker of the House and African Americans chair key committees"--
Physical Description: xvii, 146 p. : ill. ; 18 cm.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN: 9780195338317 (pbk. : acid-free paper)
0195338316 (pbk. : acid-free paper)